adventures in dysthymia

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sermons

The mockingbird on the brush-pile
disapproves of the one
high in the peach tree.

Each mounts his pulpit perch
to denounce the other, to preach
a sunrise sermon of song.

Any morning, I will
willingly attend this church.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Every artist should have a mission statement, right? I jotted down some thoughts in that direction, trying to be a bit more concise, trying to cut closer to the basics, than I have in some little essays and such in the past...

MY ART
a manifesto, of sorts

My art will be art that says something, that has a point of view. Concept, in and by itself, is not enough; the concept can be only the starting point.

My art will not be clever for the sake of cleverness. It may, however, be clever.

My art will be about both me and my audience. It is a conversation.

My art will not confuse self-indulgence with creativity. It will not be lazy. It will not lack focus.

My art will seek true realism in metaphor, which gives form and meaning to all communication and thought.

My art will look to the future and the past, but avoid being obsessed with current fashion.

My art will recognize that technique is important only to the degree that it allows one to achieve ones goals.

Stephen Brooke 2011

Note: By 'art' I mean all forms of art, not only painting or other visual arts. Whether I paint, compose, write, this statement applies.

'Lamentations'

Despite being hooked up at an abysmally slow speed, I thought I'd try to spend some time online. A very frustrating experience that's been, lately! Anyway, the very old poem I posted a couple days ago got me thinking -- that's an affliction to which I'm occasionally subject.

When I was a teenager -- oh, maybe sixteen, seventeen -- I wrote a very long and very bad angst-filled free verse poem I titled 'Lamentations.'

Quite wisely, I would say, I did not save the piece to the current day. It was still in my files, as I remember, twenty years ago but was weeded out sometime since. First, I did copy out a few phrases I thought might be reused.

Some of which have been recycled. Others are still in my notes, phrases like 'black bliss' or 'whispered screams' or 'avoid the white, the light that blinds.' There was much about finding solace in darkness and solitude, I think!

I remember how much hurt and despair I poured into that poem, scribbling in the late hours when I could not sleep. I had a lot of trouble sleeping back then. Insomnia has long been a problem though it abated greatly when I started using an antidepressant (these days, simply St John's Wort, which does the job quite nicely for me). I suspect the serotonin retention that (supposedly) helps my mood also aids my sleep.

Truly, between being seriously depressed, having crippling social anxiety, and suffering from severe panic attacks, it's a wonder I survived my teen years at all.

I had thoughts of suicide daily. To be honest, I still do, but they're more like a habit of thought now, an old familiar friend -- I acknowledge that they remain and probably always will. Each day I choose to live.

Though it's not always been easy -- there has been more than one occasion when I have held a gun to my head. Now, I dare not keep one in the house for fear I would turn it on myself. Not that I'd be likely to at this relatively late point (barring a painful, fatal disease or being surrounded by the Federales or something of that sort) but there's no point in tempting fate, is there?

~SB

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Room

Come night, I will too often go
To gaze beyond my window's glow;
Into another realm I peer,
Upon a world that I fear,
Into the darkness I must know.

I am, perhaps, drawn from a book,
From quiet study in some nook,
Or from the comfort of my bed
To that dark glass I'm once more led,
I'm once more called to blindly look.

The shelter of my empty room,
The safety of its changless gloom,
Speaks to me of all that I lack,
The fears that ever hold me back,
But none can live within a tomb.

I rest my head, I close my eyes,
I tell myself my newest lies,
Yet night brings hidden thoughts to me,
Temptation whispers come and be;
The darkness calls, no one replies.

Stephen Brooke ©1969

(some original draft from 1966)

A reeeeally old poem I found while going through yet more of my stuff on bits and scraps of paper (quite probably the last of the old stuff to get sorted out and put into digital form). Wrote this when I was 19, with some of the ideas and words going back earlier. Of course, there have been the revisions and rewrites since but the basics remain. It's pretty juvenile and certainly trite.

Well, the last couple days the internet has been practically inaccessible. I've been able to do no more than check my main email boxes -- no Face Book, no discussion boards, etc. Just when it seemed to be getting back to normal, too!

Monday, April 11, 2011

CB to FB

I'd shoot the breeze on the CB Radio
back in the days of disco and Brezhnev
Times have changed, gone from CB to FB
and my good buddy's now my BFF
My hand on the wheel, my eye on the road,
I was watchin' for Smokey and bein' a badass ;
now I'm lookin' at this little screen,
checkin' my page, updatin' my status.

Breaker, breaker, be my Face Book friend;
ten-four, good buddy, got some time to spend,
rollin' down the highway but stayin' on line
while I keep an eye open for the exit sign.
We'll play Farmville and poke each other,
look for old girlfriends or maybe their mother
and find pictures of cute cats to send;
Breaker, breaker, be my Face Book friend!

Gotta be careful what you share,
there's no 10-35 on here,
and watch for apps that'll hijack your rig;
it's a treacherous road we sometimes steer!
But it's wide open, down the internet,
no boy scouts anywhere I look;
OMG, I have a new friend,
forget that radio, I have Face Book!

Stephen Brooke ©2011

A rough lyric, written out in bits and pieces over a couple or three days. The concept is not great, I know, just something to play around with. I got the idea over at the Harmony Central board when someone posited that Face Book was the new CB radio, i.e. a fad that will fade as quickly as it came. I don't buy that, exactly, but the parallels of the two media were enough to inspire this piece. Which was also, obviously, inspired by those CB radio/trucker songs of the 70s.

Other news: as I had suspected, my old tom cat, Bones, passed away. He hadn't shown up here in quite some time. Yesterday I found his remains and buried him out on a little hill near the fence where he used to enjoy napping and sunning himself. Bones was already in residence here when I moved in 4 and half years ago, so he had good longevity for an outdoors tom who carried on like Charlie Sheen. RIP, Bones.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Wet Blanket

I'm the short in your live wire,
the wet blanket for your fire;
always less than you desire,
I have nothing you require.

I'll not be there when you call,
never count on me at all.
Your house of cards is sure to fall;
I'll be missing from the wall.

I'm an entree with no spice,
your cocktail weak with melted ice.
Not much virtue, not a vice,
once I'm sampled, not tried twice.

I'll never be all I can be,
no acorn that becomes the tree.
Depend on just one thing from me,
my undependability.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

The latest outbreak of doggerel. I'll take me meds to try to prevent more but relapses are probably inevitable.

For the last month or so, my dial-up internet here on Peanut Road has been horrendously bad. It began with the bad storm front then and each that has followed has knocked it down as soon as it seemed to be getting back on its feet. Just now recovering a bit from the last storms that came through but it is still very slow and very erratic. I have not been able to spend much time on line or, I should say, the time I've spent on line has included a great deal of waiting and page-reloading so I haven't been able to do much or visit as much as usual. Some sites, such as My Space, are simply impossible when it's like this.

It is not the telephone wiring in my house. I ran a line direct from the jack out in the box to my PC and it made no difference. Nor is it the computer, since both machines are equally slow. So it is either the telephone lines before they reach here and/or the hubs further upstream. Considering how it started to go down before the last storm actually reached here, I'd say the problems are at least partially well away from here.

Oh well, someday maybe I'll have some form of high-speed here. I've been miffed enough to once again investigate satellite internet but the price and drawbacks (latency, slow-ish upload) make that an unlikely solution. I suppose some sort of wireless connection might work, though cell phone reception is rather poor in this house. I reckon if I took the PC out in the field next door it would work...

Friday, April 08, 2011

Fallen

Fallen here before you,
too broken to repair,
living for the pain,
blinded by despair,

I lay my head to rest,
hope I never wake;
yesterday's a lie,
tomorrow's a mistake.

Promises forgotten,
eyes closed to the dawn,
shattered sky above me,
light already gone --

shed a tear for me;
I'll shed one for you.
Silence held no wisdom,
the dark was never true

and life’s not worth the effort
of another breath.
Fallen here before you --
fallen to my death.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

Had a bit of a roundabout on this one -- from a somewhat serious song idea to what ended up as an attempt at a blatantly angsty poem, i.e. not exactly a serious statement. This does present its own set of problems -- it must come off as legitimate, it must still be written as well as possible (within reason). It must not be doggerel nor light verse but, rather, as something a truly depressed or dejected/rejected individual might write. Of course, the fact that I have my own natural tendencies in this direction made it easier -- a bit of self-parody, in essence!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

IT SEEMS to me that if one wants to sell a CD -- or album's worth of downloads -- these days, one must give the buyer more for his money. More music, maybe more multimedia content as well. The ten-to-twelve song offering is not going to cut it; offer 16, 18, 20, if you can.

And maybe throw in a video or art work or lyrics or all of them. Put some PDFs on that disc, some picture galleries. Otherwise, why should anyone bother to buy them instead of downloading for free somewhere?

So when am I going to get an album out? I don't know if there is any point, as long as I am unable to play out anywhere, to support it and generate interest. Things remain very unsettled here on Peanut Road and recording is admittedly not a priority. Though I do continue to write songs!

The concept for the eventual CD has been evolving. Yes, it will have a lot of songs on it now. And I have decided that ALL of them will be Florida-related. I have 21 songs with definite Florida subject matter and another half-dozen that could be considered somewhat related. That's not a huge number, less than a tenth of my total output, but more than enough to pick 16 or so for this project.

To be called 'Sunshine Land,' by the way.

As far as any side-projects go, they'll have to be even further in the future -- collaboration would not be very easy at this point. Not only because of where I live and my duties that keep me tied here but because my incredibly bad dial-up internet makes the uploading and downloading of music somewhere between frustrating and impossible.

In the mean time, there's loads of work to do, taking care of my mother, taking care of this place. Life goes on, even when I sometimes don't feel much like traveling with it.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Dog Box Road

We were playin' the bar down on Dog Box Road,
I forget what they called it that year,
but it was always the same, whatever the name,
and stank of smoke and beer.
The place was full of the reddest rednecks
and rougher than my morning stubble,
with a chicken wire cage around the stage
to keep us out of trouble.

It looked to be a pretty good gig
and closin' time was comin'
when some drunken fool who was shooting pool
hit on another guy's woman.
Well, this fellow took his cue
from a stick upside the head;
someone started to shout and a fight broke out,
bottles flew and noses bled.

There are better things to do on a Saturday night
than playing music for a barroom fight,
while the beer and blood both flowed
down at the bar on Dog Box Road.

Stuff was bouncing off our cage,
bottles and bodies and chairs.
We wanted to live and it was fixin' to give
before we wound up our affairs.
I got on the mike, tried to calm 'em down
but no one heard my plea;
when a stray bullet parted my mullet
I knew this was no place to be.

Forget the money, this set is done,
time to pack up and go.
Chicken wire won't stop gunfire
so we kept our heads real low.
And never went back to Dog Box Road
nor stepped foot on that stage;
we're stayin' far away from that bar
and livin' to a ripe old age.

Stephen Brooke ©2011

A song, of course, and fairly rough at the moment. As usual, musical ideas come into my head as soon as I get a few words down. This, being a rather open-ended narrative, could easily have the story (such as it is) expanded, extended, whatever. Shoot, it could run on and on but there would have to be something interesting going on to justify it -- a real story.

Dog Box Road: There is such a road but, so far as I know, no bar is on it. It just seemed too neat a name not to use it for something. Btw, for those not Southern/Country enough to know, a dog box is the semi-permanent crate you have in the back of your pickup truck to transport your hunting dogs. Pretty common to see them around these parts.